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Title: Money Island

Author: Andrew Jackson Howell, Jr.

Release Date: December 30, 2005  [eBook #17415]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


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Copyright, 1908, by
Andrew J. Howell, Jr.
Commercial Printing Co.,
Wilmington N.C.


  Money Island                    5

  The Conquest of Jamesby        51

[Illustration: The Little Island Among the Marshes]


This is the story of the buried treasure on Money Island, which lies in
Greenville Sound, not far from Wilmington, North Carolina. It was told
by Mr. Jonathan Landstone many years ago, and is a part of another story
which follows, and which will explain something further about the
mysterious little island that blinks in the sunlight and tries to hide
its secret. The words are Mr. Landstone's and were written by him, to
make sure that the story would be told correctly when the time came to
publish it.

(Mr. Landstone's MS.)

My grandfather lived in Charleston, S.C. My home is in Philadelphia. In
my boyhood I visited him several times. He was a fine old man, and was
very fond of me. He used to tell me many stories of the good old
colonial days. He said his father was a pirate; but that pirates in
those days were gentlemen. Although they made game of the King's revenue
on the high seas, it was regarded as nothing very wrong; and, although
they played havoc with the Spanish shipping, it was but the assertion of
a time-honored right of Englishmen, who never did love Spaniards. They
were, many of them, ingloriously hanged, it is true, but it was by the
King's officers, and not by the people.

However, not to defend pirates, or indeed to condemn them, I will tell
you what my grandfather narrated about his father, who was Capt. John
Redfield. He was a gallant seaman, who consorted with Charles Vane and
other doughty corsairs of those days of romance upon the seas.

When Captain Kidd forsook the King's commission to run down the pirates
on the American coast, and organized his formidable squadron, Captain
Redfield was chosen as his trusted counsellor, to accompany the
brilliant leader on his adventures. He gave up his own ship, and was
with Captain Kidd on many voyages, being entrusted with many a
commission of importance.

One fine spring morning, while off the Carolina coast, Captain Kidd was
pacing his deck, enjoying the warm splendor of the early sunshine. He
had just returned from a successful voyage among the Spanish colonies of
the south, and was gaily attired after the manner of a Spanish cavalier.
He wore a cocked hat, decked with a yellow band and a black plume, and
a coat of black velvet which reached down to his knees. His trousers
were blue, and were adorned by large golden knee-buckles. He wore
massive silver buckles on his shoes. With his well-proportioned body,
neatly trimmed beard, and steady, alert eyes, he presented as fine a
picture of a man as could have anywhere been found. His manner had the
dignity and repose of a beneficent prince, as he gave his orders for the
day and received the salutations of his men.

The ship had passed the Cape of Fear, and was making in towards the
shore-line, which Captain Kidd was observing with great interest. Some
near-by point was evidently the destination. At length, at his orders,
the sails were lowered and the anchor dropped. "We will lie here
to-day," he remarked, "and have a little rest."

This information met the ready approbation of the men, who soon disposed
themselves in careless groups about the ship. They knew it would be a
day of idleness; because there were no forays to be made upon the land,
for the reason that there wore no human habitations in those parts. To
the buccaneers the locality was well known as furnishing a safe retreat
when retirement from active work was desired.

During the day there were singing, dancing, feasting. It was a day such
as only a gallant corsair could have with his merry crew. The hours sped
swiftly; and at dusk anchors were weighed, and the ship moved a few
miles to the northward.

Captain Kidd, standing at the prow, called Captain Redfield to him.
"Captain," said he, "I wish to entrust you with a most important
service. I am somewhat overstocked. I have not failed to be generous to
the men; but still I do not feel at ease for a journey to New England.
You appreciate the situation. I wish to make a deposit; and, as our
interests along the coast are now beginning to be extensive, I desire to
detail you as a resident of Carolina to keep an oversight for me. You
will live on this coast near the location of to-night's deposit. You
will find the climate agreeable, and other things favorable. I will hand
you for your own use, in case of need, gold to the value of one thousand
pounds. Is it agreeable, Captain?"

"Aye, sir; your wishes are my orders."

"Then, swear by the Holy Virgin that you will faithfully watch over the
stuff; that you will not touch the chests or their contents, nor give
any information or suggestion that might lead any one to their
discovery--in fact, that you will not disclose to any one the object of
your residence in this secluded place."

Captain Redfield doffed his hat, and, raising his right hand, said,
"Captain, I so swear."

"Your hand with the oath, Redfield. You are a trusty fellow, and I have
the fullest confidence in you."

"Thank you, Captain."

"But, hold," Captain Kidd continued in his great benevolent voice, "I
had forgotten the conditions. They are: You are to keep the engagement,
if necessary, for five years. Our calling; as you know, is a little
uncertain. At the end of that period, if I have not returned, you will
be at liberty to take up the smaller chest to be deposited to-night, and
use the contents, subject to such division--not to exceed one-half to
each of us--as I may demand on my return. The same conditions will apply
to the other chest for an additional period of five years. In the
event, however, of any special need, I may send an order for some of the
stuff. But look you for my signet. See!" And he drew from his pocket a
piece of resin upon which he had stamped his signet. "Keep that to prove
the genuineness of my written orders. Is everything satisfactory,

"Everything is satisfactory, Captain."

Captain Redfield was a man of stalwart build. His height was six feet or
more, and his movements were quick and firm. His face was beardless and
wore an expression of stability and energy.

The two stood for some time upon the prow of the ship, and discussed the
locality of the proposed hiding of the precious booty. Then Captain Kidd
called two men by name, who promptly responded. He said, "I have trusted
you in times past, and I desire to do so again. I believe you will not
betray my confidence. We are going to make another deposit to-night. I
have long had the location in mind. Now, swear by the Holy Virgin that
you will not disturb the stuff yourselves, nor in any way aid or abet
any one else in doing so."

They swore with deep earnestness.

The group continued there awhile, until the moon rose and shed its
silver splendor on the rolling water about them, touching the
white-capped breakers with a soft and magic radiance as they dashed upon
the near-by beach.

Then orders were given for the lowering of the boat.

Captain Kidd proceeded to the lockers of the ship, which opened into his
cabin; and, with the aid of Captain Redfield, drew forth two iron
chests. These he carried to the outer deck, and carefully lowered them
to the boats by means of ropes. From a respectful distance the sailors
who had no hand in this work watched the proceedings with eager

Firearms, shovels, and axes were then placed in the boat. Four rowers
took their positions; and Captains Kidd and Redfield climbed down the
rope ladder, and sat in the stern. Everything was ready, and word was
given to ply the oars.

Soon the ship became a mystic shape in the dim distance; and, as the
inlet was entered, it was lost entirely to view. By tortuous passages
among the marshes, they drew up at the island--Money Island.

"Island the fourth!" said Captain Kidd jocularly. "Magnificent indeed
will be the buccaneer's castle in Merry England when they all give up
their wealth! Ha, a fine life this; but I suppose as fine a one when
the retired merchant from the South Seas brings his well-earned fortune
to a corner of old England. Not Captain Kidd then, men, but John
So-and-So, a wise and revered merchant. Ha! Do you see the game?"

The sailors sprang upon the land and pulled the boat well in from the
water. The officers stepped lightly ashore, and railed against the
low-lying branches, which whipped their faces. The trees were thick and
low, making passage beneath them arduous and slow. However, the whole
island was small and soon traversed; and, finally, a spot was selected
as being accessible and suitable to the purpose.

Two deep holes about ten feet apart were dug, and the chests brought and
deposited within them. Some of the earth was replaced; and then they
sought two small trees to plant above the chests. This was accomplished
slowly and carefully, so that the growth of the trees would not be

At length the task was completed; and the little island bore within its
bosom wealth sufficient to buy an earldom. The silence of the dreary
solitude sealed the secret; and there was no man who might discover it,
other than those who laid the chests in their earthly hiding place. The
moon gave testimony to the hidden treasure, and bore its silent witness
through the many decades that followed.

Upon leaving the island, they rowed to the mainland, which was but a
short distance away; and there Captain Redfield hid in three places in
the ground the money which Captain Kidd had supplied him for his own
needs, and as compensation for his services until his return. The axes
and shovels, also, were secreted in the woods.

It was past midnight when they returned to the ship, which set sail at
break of day towards the north. By sunset they reached Albemarle Sound,
the rendezvous of some companion buccaneers; and there waited for
several days feasting and engaging in jovial pastimes.

Meantime, a small sloop was procured for Captain Redfield; and, having
been supplied with necessary provisions and household comforts, and
manned by four sturdy men who knew naught of the buried treasure, but
engaged for the service on goodly pay, it sailed for the captain's new
home near Money Island.

Upon reaching their destination, the pioneer residents set to work at
once to construct temporary quarters, and were soon provided with a
comfortable house. According to the plans of the Commander-in-Chief, the
men who accompanied Captain Redfield were to understand that they were
to engage in any service that might come to hand. They were to clear the
land and till it, build houses and fences, and do such other work as
might tend to prepare the locality for a more permanent settlement in
case it should be desired to inaugurate such an enterprise.

The sloop gave them communication with the outside world, enabling them
to visit Charleston, where a colony had been lately planted, and the
several settlements to the north. It also afforded Captain Redfield
opportunity to find a wife, whom he brought to Rindout, as he styled his
new home. There the party lived in the quiet enjoyment of a life with
nature, which abundantly supplied, during the frequent periods of
recreation, every facility for hunting, fishing, and other sports.

One year passed, and another reached its seventh month; and the party
had experienced nothing to arouse more than a passing interest. There
had been no visitors to their settlement, not even an Indian.

On one October morning, however, a ship was seen lying off the inlet.
This was a sight which caused a considerable stir among them. Captain
Redfield debated the question within himself whether or not it was the
ship of the Commander-in-Chief, and if it would be wise to go out and
pay her a visit. But he hesitated, not wishing to jeopardize the
commission imposed upon him.

Finally, a boat was seen approaching the shore, bearing a flag at its
prow. In due course this was recognized as the ensign of Captain Kidd;
and everything wag hastily arranged to receive the leader with due honor
and welcome.

As the boat drew near, though, it was discovered that he was not among
the occupants; but on a seat at the stern, and with dignified mien, sat
Max Brisbau, an old shipmate of Captain Redfield's, and a former
companion in the service of Captain Kidd.

Brisbau alighted, and, extending his hand to Captain Redfield with suave
complacency, stated that he had came upon a little service for Captain
Kidd, and would later communicate his object. He showered courtly
attentions upon his host, who exhibited unfeigned pleasure in welcoming

The visiting boat's crew consisted of six men, who enjoyed the
companionship of Captain Redfield's assistants, mingling with them in
their various pursuits. All the graces of hospitality were generously
displayed, and mirth and good cheer possessed the men.

In the afternoon Captain Redfield was entertaining his guest in his
private room. Brisbau said he would now advise him regarding the
commission upon which he was sent; which was, in fact, none other than
the execution of an order from Captain Kidd for the two cheats that he
had secreted in that neighborhood. Captain Redfield was to be awarded a
generous portion, and his arduous service as guardian of the treasure
would terminate. In the name of Captain Kidd, he graciously extended
thanks for the faithfulness which Captain Redfield had shown in the
discharge of his duties, and gave him assurances of the high esteem and
confidence of the gallant leader.

The words were very pleasing; but Captain Redfield hesitated to make
answer. "It may or may not be true," said he after a pause, "that
Captain Kidd has buried possessions in this immediate locality. It is
not to be denied that he has secreted treasure along the coast, but
where? That is the question. I have some knowledge of the hiding place
of some of it, but must have some written order over the signature and
seal of the Captain to warrant me in disclosing it."

Brisbau promptly responded that he had such a communication from Captain
Kidd, and proceeded to draw it from an inner pocket of his coat. He
failed to find it, and with a great show of annoyance and a sudden
recollection, he exclaimed with an oath that he had left it on the
dressing table on his ship.

What was to be done? He would send immediately out to the ship, and have
the paper brought to him. No, that was hardly worth while. He assured
Captain Redfield that he would hand him the paper on their return to the
ship, with Captain Redfield accompanying him.

That, Captain Redfield replied, would hardly be satisfactory. His
obligation was to give information as to the hidden treasure only upon a
well attested written order from Captain Kidd. Brisbau cajoled,
implored, and vehemently asserted the injury to his feelings which the
foolish reluctance of his friend caused him.

By intuition, Captain Redfield became convinced, on account of a certain
weakness in the attitude of Brisbau in defending his request, that there
were deceit and treachery in his conduct. Therefore, he coolly stated
his determination to make no movement in the matter without the
authority about which he had spoken.

At this Brisbau rose in great anger and exclaimed, "I shall have the
money, or your life will be no more than Jack Kettle's, who flaunted his
opposition before Captain Kidd himself!"

Hardly had he spoken when Captain Redfield in the flash of a thought for
self-preservation, sprang upon him. Brisbau, equally as quick, met the
onset and moved as best he could to avoid the grasp that threatened him.

They were quite alone. Redfield was entirely unarmed, but his opponent
wore a sword at his side, with pistol and knife hanging from his belt.
Having made the assault, the only safety for Redfield lay in his gaining
the ascendency over his opponent by sheer physical effort, to enable him
to keep Brisbau from using the weapons at his side. He missed the hold
around both arms which he had planned, but firmly secured Brisbau's
right arm, while his own right hand grasped the other's wrist. These
advantages he succeeded in holding, although he could do nothing towards
disarming Brisbau or binding him more securely as a captive.

They struggled long and furiously. Redfield, whose position required his
utmost exertion, gradually became exhausted; but he had a desperate
determination to win the mastery over Brisbau, who was likewise weary
from the struggle and doggedly angry. He feared a result disastrous to
himself if he gave his opponent an opportunity to use his weapons.

Finally, just at a critical moment, Mrs. Redfield appeared. She started
at the sight which met her eyes; but, seeing the situation at a glance,
she ran back into the room out of which she had come, and quickly
reappeared with a rope. With a woman's ready wit, she had found the
means of bringing victory to her husband. She threw the rope around
Brisbau's shoulders and wound it over his arms until he was powerless
to resist further. He was then easily bound and tied, body and legs, to
a chair, grumbling his angry displeasure at the turn of affairs.

Captain Redfield paused a little while to recover his balance, and sat
down to cogitate the matter of the disposition of his prisoner; and,
also, to watch for the return of his men from an excursion they had gone
upon for the entertainment of their guests. They were slow in coming,
and an annoying suspicion grew upon him. He could not tell what the
attitude of Brisbau's men might be; or if a conflict between them and
his own men were to occur, what consequences might ensue. At any rate,
he wished to avoid such a conflict if it were by any means possible; but
he feared it could not be done. His good wife was greatly concerned, and
urged upon him some amicable settlement with Brisbau, even to the
delivery of part of the treasure; for, after all, she thought, his claim
might be just.

An hour later, one of Captain Redfield's men returned; and, to his great
dismay, informed him that an agreement had been made with the visiting
seamen which would affect their standing with him, but would work him no
harm. He said that, upon the arrival of the other men, the matter would
be discussed with the Captain, and meantime he would take no steps
toward providing a defense for him in a conflict which was not likely to

This disclosure was startling, and a shock to the spirit which had
upheld Captain Redfield. His first impulse was to attack the man for
what he considered the basest treachery, but he desisted. Parley with
him he could not. He could only await the consequences of the compact
which had been hinted at. But upon one thing he was determined--not to
disclose any knowledge of the secreted treasure without first having in
hand the credentials from Captain Kidd which he had demanded. His honor
had been pledged to such a course, and he would not forsake his trust.

The men came. But they looked with indifference upon the bound prisoner.
There was no display of the strong feelings which had been anticipated.
The situation was obvious. So far as Captain Redfield was concerned, he
felt that he had been forsaken, betrayed. There was no man who stood
with him. In vain he pleaded with his men to stand by him in his defense
against a most dastardly plan to wrong him. He then inquired their
attitude towards Brisbau, and received an evasive answer.

At length he gave up the struggle, and sought to learn the purpose of
the men who had all now gathered before him; those of his own company,
and those who had come with Brisbau. One of them as spokesman, a
new-comer, informed him that he and his friends had accompanied Captain
Brisbau for the purpose of securing some of the buried treasure, which
was known to be in that neighborhood; and they intended to find the
booty before leaving. He also stated that Captain Redfield's men, upon
learning about the hidden treasure, had agreed to become confederates;
and that their master would be treated in every way as a friend, and be
given a full share of the treasure, provided he would properly inform
them and Captain Brisbau, whom they intended to release immediately, as
to its location. If he for any reason should refuse so to favor them, he
and his wife would be treated as prisoners, and dealt with as might seem
best--until, of course, he would consent to aid them in their project.

The response that came was firm and unmistakable. The brave custodian
averred that he would not betray his trust, even in the very face of
death. Nor did days of urging and threatening turn him from his purpose.

Brisbau was released, and given to understand that the men were in
control of affairs; and that his animosity towards Captain Redfield must

The woods were scoured for the treasure. Days passed, and weeks, and the
search was incessant; but there was no discovery made. Captain Redfield
and his wife, now prisoners in chains, were urged and implored; but he
could not be persuaded to give the information, although the mental
tension he suffered was almost unbearable.

One day on a sudden determination, Brisbau set sail with his men and
companions, together with the prisoners. His purpose was to take a short
cruise and then return; meantime allowing Captain Redfield a further
opportunity to disclose his secret; otherwise--and he repeated his
threat made upon his first day at Rindout.

The ship stopped at Charleston, and, almost immediately upon its
arrival, it was seized under a suspicion of piracy, and a search made
for evidences of the unlawful traffic. The prisoners were released
through some favor of the authorities, but Brisbau and his men were
imprisoned. In the hands of the king's officers their lives were in
great jeopardy, but they finally escaped the scaffold.

As to Captain Redfield and his wife, the unexpected release was a most
welcome boon. For her he had felt the tenderest and most agonized
solicitude. The temptation to acquiesce in the demand of his captors
and thus free her from the trying situation came often to him with a
weight under which he almost broke down. When it was over, the joy of
freedom was as great as the suffering had been while they were
prisoners. He lived thereafter at Charleston, and soon outgrew the
suspicion with which he was at first regarded, of having being connected
with the buccaneers. He determined to settle down to an honest,
industrious life. My grandfather was born soon after.

Captain Redfield was never afterwards known to refer to anything
connected with a pirate in conversation with any one; and I have never
learned whether or not he ever afterwards visited Rindout. I know he was
wealthy; but then he worked hard and saved his earnings, and I do not
believe he increased his store from the hidden chests on Money Island.
The story I have now written he told to my grandfather in his old age,
and, upon relating it, he urged the greatest caution in his use of it.

Twice my grandfather made unsuccessful efforts to find the chests. He
urged that I, his grandchild, should keep the knowledge of the treasure
as a family heritage; but that I might do as I liked about it. After
giving the subject very careful thought, I have now given up the secret
of Money Island, and have not withheld a single detail which was told
me. Of course, nearly a century and a half has elapsed since the
precious booty was hidden. The story, therefore, is old, but I do not
believe it has suffered from age. Captain Kidd was executed in London
not long after the hiding of the treasure, and his associates gave up
their old calling; and probably no one has since disturbed the precious

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, as to when I first heard Mr. Landstone's story. It was when I was a
boy in the early forties, and the events connected with its telling have
modified its conclusion, as will presently be seen. I have heretofore
spoken very little of the subject to any one; and when I have done so at
all, it has been to one or two intimate friends as a matter of
particular confidence. In my old age, however, I am going to let my tale
forsake its hiding-place and become public property.

My parents owned a summer home on Greenville Sound not far from Money
Island. To us children it was the very heart of life. The best pleasure
of the year was confined to the four months spent there from the first
of June to the last day of September. We rowed, sailed, fished, swam,
hunted, frolicked, and ran the whole gamut of youthful delights. Those
good days are yet vivid in memory; and it is a matter of regret with me
that my grandchildren--as fine boys and girls as ever lived--cannot have
the same wild, wholesome fun at the Sound as fell to my lot when I was a

The time that I now speak of, however, was about the middle of May, the
balmy month of soft breezes and bright flowers. I had been particularly
studious in school, and my father agreed to let me spend three days at
the Sound in company with a young friend. We arranged our food supply,
took the old family rockaway, and set out early in the morning, as happy
a pair of boys as ever started on a project of pleasure.

After spending an hour or two at the Sound house, arranging our fishing
tackle and looking after the boats, which had been hauled up for the
winter, we started out on a sail towards the beach. It was a fine day
for sailing, and the breeze bore us away as smoothly and quickly as if
we had been in a balloon. As we passed Money Island, we observed a boat
moored on the south side, and tried to locate the occupants; but we
could see nobody, and concluded that it belonged to a fishing party who
had, for some reason, left the boat tied there.

We sailed on; and when we had gone perhaps half a mile away. I happened
to turn around, and was surprised to see two men stealthily embarking in
the boat with what appeared to be shovels and rods of some kind. This
sight was too much for our youthful imagination. So we decided at once
to change our course, and essayed to follow at a distance the movements
of the other boat. This we had no difficulty in doing; and we
afterwards learned that we were successful in our efforts to avoid the
suspicion of purposely following it.

The men sailed down the Sound a short distance to the south, and made
for the shore in a little cove at a somewhat secluded place.

We were familiar with the locality, and decided to wait until later for
a closer observation. Accordingly, we bore once again toward the beach,
and enjoyed an hour watching the breakers roll upon the shore, and in
picking up curios, such as are always to be found upon the sea beach.

Upon our return, we passed close to the little cove into which the boat
had gone, and could readily discern through the trees a tent not far
inland; in front of which were seated the two strangers, watching a pot
hung over a fire made upon the ground. This excited an additional
flutter of wonderment with us. Indeed, what we had seen, coupled with
the current tradition regarding Money Island, soon wrought us up into a
fever of excitement; for it was very suggestive of a search for the
treasure on the island.

I had heard from my early childhood that Captain Kidd, the historic and
lordly pirate, who reigned supreme upon the high seas during the
seventeenth century, was supposed to have buried some of his booty on
Money Island. Everybody was familiar with the tradition; and I doubt if
there is, even now, a single person reared in the town of Wilmington, of
in the vicinity of the Sound, who has not likewise been told the same
indefinite story about the little island. But the presence of these two
strangers, and their somewhat mysterious conduct, gave the tradition a
touch of reality such as it could never have otherwise had.

We concluded that these men had evidently some positive information on
the subject, and were showing their confidence in that information by
prosecuting a search for the hidden treasure, at much trouble and
expense. This was clear to us, and we talked the matter over that night
with eager interest. We surmised every possible case that might have
furnished the strange visitors with a working clue to the discovery of
the treasure. Speculation ran high. But there was one thing that we
became agreed upon, and that was, to become, if possible, parties to the
secret enterprise. We pondered with boys' shrewdness how this should be
done. This we could not decide upon; but we determined to play a venture
toward the desired end. The attitude of innocent curiosity seemed best
suited to our purpose. So we planned to draw up at Money Island in the
morning if we observed that the men were there; and to approach them in
an unsuspicious manner, as if we had just happened to stop at the Island
without any definite motive. This should work as a capital ruse, and, we
felt confident, it would initiate a connection on our part with the
mysterious search.

That point settled, we concluded to investigate the tent and its
occupants as well as we might under the cover of darkness, and we
promptly set out upon that project. We approached within a hundred feet
of the tent, and saw the men still sitting in the light of the fire at
the tent door; but there was no discovery of importance. They were
merely talking quietly and carelessly about some ship that one of them
seemed to be interested in. We could hear their conversation
distinctly, and we were also able to take a good observation of their

One of them was a man upwards of sixty, of robust build and gray hair
and beard. He had a kind face, which bore the aspect of one accustomed
only to the quieter walks of life, unfamiliar with adventure and
ill-suited to an enterprise such as they were now apparently engaged
upon. The other man had a weather-beaten face with a long nose, and a
swagger of manner which betokened the sailor. This, we afterwards
learned, had been his occupation. We watched them for about an hour; but
finally withdrew in the hope of making a better acquaintance in the

Soon after daylight we began eagerly to watch for the boat, which
appeared around a bend in the Sound after the lapse of an hour or so and
headed straight for the Island. We loitered about the yard a little
while longer, and then made ready our yacht without any appearance of

On setting sail, we made for the beach; but, upon reaching there, turned
back at once and sailed for Money Island in an indirect course. We soon
reached there and stepped upon the shore. The men immediately dropped
their implements. They returned our salutation pleasantly. We observed
with much surprise the disturbed state of the ground and the holes which
had been dug; and then began to make inquiries as innocently as we could
as to their object. Our plans of the night before began to work

By sheer force of persistence, we won our way into their confidence, and
worked with them until late in the afternoon. For they were indeed on a
determined search for Captain Kidd's buried treasure.

We were in constant expectation of discovering the chests of gold--two
iron chests, which Mr. Landstone, the elder gentleman, assured us he
felt positive were there. But the discovery was not made, and they said
this had been the fourth day of labor on the Island.

The conclusion was reached that, either the surrounding water had
encroached upon that portion of the Island where the treasure had been
buried, and had thus imposed an almost impossible barrier to its being
unearthed; or that the chests had become imbedded beneath the massive
roots of two dwarfed old oaks which stood gnarled and storm-worn in the
centre of the island. To the task of removing these trees the men felt
entirely unequal after their days of work; and, therefore, it was
decided to wait a day or two, and approach the task of doing so, if at
all, with renewed spirit.

Upon invitation, we boys accompanied the men to their camp and had
supper with them. We were entertained by stories of adventure and
travel, of sea voyage, of Indian warfare; and, finally, after several
requests of Mr. Landstone, with the story of Money Island. He said he
would tell it upon condition that its secrecy would be kept inviolate,
at least for many years. So, in the weird light of a large pine-wood
fire among the trees, we had the story of Money Island, told in the
living voice of a capital story-teller, in almost the same words as are
used in the MS he gave me that night, and which has now been publicly

When Mr. Landstone finished, we boys sat in breathless amazement,
overcome by the glamour of romance which the story had thrown around the
mysterious little island.

The old sailor forgot his pipe, which turned over and dropped its
contents to the ground. "Aye, sir," he exclaimed, "we will surely
uproot those trees in the morning!" And that became the decision of us

I remember that, after a long pause, I asked, to reassure myself, "Mr.
Landstone, do you really believe that story?" He laughed and said,
"Well, you see I am on an undertaking I have had in mind for nearly
fifty years. Yes, I believe those chests are there."

That was enough. I did not sleep an hour that night; and the next
morning we were early at the task of searching for the treasure. And a
stupendous undertaking it proved to be. All day we labored at one tree.
The roots were massive and wide-spread, and the work of cutting and
removing them required the utmost exertion. Finally, just before sunset,
we completed the task, and began to dig for the treasure in the earth

Already water had begun to percolate into the hole, and ere we had gone
much deeper, it flooded it so that we found it impossible to continue
the excavation. Then we resorted to our sounding rod again for a last
ray of hope, and almost immediately it struck something hard! Our
spirits rose within us.

I tore off my clothes, and jumped into the water. After working for some
time, with the aid of a shovel, I brought to the surface a piece of
rusty sheet iron. Nothing more could be found. We gathered round the
worn sheet of metal, and held a solemn consultation.

The conclusion was reached that the piece of iron which we found was in
reality a part of one of Captain Kidd's chests, which had become
rust-eaten and crumbled, and which had been torn asunder by the growing
roots of the tree, and parts of it carried in various directions by
them as they had spread, scattering the contents through the ground.

We became animated with a new purpose; and the old sailor seized a
shovel and began vigorously to throw more earth from the excavation; but
darkness was falling, and we urged him to wait until the next morning.

"What about the sand already thrown out?" some one exclaimed at this
juncture. The suggestion had hardly been offered before we all bent
forward, and thrust our hands into the pile of wet, black sand lying
about us.

I at once felt something round and suggestive. "Look at this!" I cried.
It was a blackened gold coin! In the darkness we hurriedly sifted the
sand with our fingers; and each one soon found several pieces of money.

With feverish energy, we thus labored until late in the night, meeting
with constant success; and, when we stopped, every one had a precious
pile to carry back to the shore. The coins were all corroded and
misshapen through the action of the salty mud in which they had lain,
and the disturbance caused by the roots of the trees. A few silver coins
were found, but all were in a very worn condition; some being little
more than ragged discs of the thickness of paper. Others, or the remains
of them, crumbled into a black powder at the touch of our fingers. The
gold was in better preservation; and we secured a goodly store of it.

We secreted our treasure in the woods on shore, and early the next
morning returned to our work. I can well remember our exultant feeling
as we set out in our boats. "Boys," Mr. Landstone called out, as we were
sailing over the narrow stretches of water toward the island, "how do
you feel?"

"I feel like--like--" I answered, rising in my seat and lifting my hat
to cheer.

"None of that!" he said quickly--but I knew I was about to express the
excited feeling of us all.

As to our further success, I would say that it was unabated during
nearly the whole day. I think we secured every piece of precious metal
that had been buried beneath the tree. The following day we uprooted the
other tree, but failed to find any trace of more booty. We concluded
that the remaining chest had probably been removed; but that is still an
unsettled question.

Besides the coin, we had discovered the remains of much silver plate;
but it was of little value, being almost entirely destroyed. But the
gold--there was an abundance of it, and we were all made rich!

In the meantime our parents appeared on the scene to learn the cause of
our protracted absence from home. It is needless to say that there was
no rod of correction held over us that day.

If I had taken care of my share of the treasure as I should have done
after my father's death, I would be living in luxury and comfort to-day;
but, even regretting my poor judgment, I can now thank a good Providence
that I have been sustained through a long life, which has had an undue
share of misfortune, by the splendid fortune which came to me in that
happy May of long ago.

[Illustration: "The decaying hulks of blockade runners that rise a
little here and there above the waves"]


I reached home for tea a little late, and saw my young friend Jamesby in
the back yard where he had gone to admire my fowls, in which I take a
just pride. Old Henry, my colored servant, was playing the part of host;
for there was no one else at home. When I made my appearance, the
chickens had evidently become a matter of secondary interest.

Jamesby, a rising young banker of the city, was sitting on an empty box
near the fence, and Henry was standing before him, leaning upon his
cane, chuckling and talking in his customary deferential manner, which
has always made him a very acceptable servant about my premises.

I approached without being observed, and did not hail them, for I did
not wish to intrude too suddenly upon what appeared to be a very amusing
subject of conversation. I heard Jamesby say laughingly, "Why, it was in
the paper this morning--five or six columns of it! It was a great big
yarn. I can't imagine why he never told you anything about it."

I knew what they were talking about. I was well aware that I had told my
tale of Money Island for publication; for had I not been sought after by
men, women, and children for every imaginable explanation and sidelight
relating to the story which might have been omitted from the MS
furnished the printer? And had I not been asked to repeat by living
voice facts in the narrative which I had written, as I thought, with
entire clearness in the published story? The boys had all read the
story, and I had been put to my wits' end to answer the questions asked
by them; but I had assured several of them that if they would take a
copy of the paper, go to the Island and there read it on the very spot
where the treasure had been buried, and then and there take a careful
survey of the situation, there would be no difficulty in their
comprehending even the slightest detail. This seemed to me to be a very
sensible suggestion; and I suppose some of them will carry it out.

While I really enjoyed the experience of having entertained so many
people that day, I was fairly well fatigued when I reached home, where I
thought I could at least be quiet and free from the constant inquiries
of interested friends.

But here was Jamesby with designs against me! He had dashed my fond
hopes of rest; although he was somehow always considerate and
endurable. I could never become impatient with him, even if I knew he
was going to make demands upon me for more information concerning Money

"What is Uncle Henry telling you, Jamesby?" I asked on drawing closer to

"Oh," he answered in a somewhat self-conscious manner, "he was about to
tell me of an experience of his in money digging."

Now, I had heard old Henry tell that story before. It was one which
seemed to justify his very sober ideas as to money getting by any other
means than by one's daily work.

"Well, Henry," I said, taking my seat also on the box, "did you really
ever dig for money?"--as if I had never before heard him say anything
about it. The implied doubt would, I knew, make him all the more ready
to talk.

He replied promptly, with a grin of interest, "Yes, sah, cose I tried
money diggin'."

Then he paused as if to await an invitation to proceed. "Go on, Uncle
Henry," urged Jamesby.

Henry shifted his position, and, leaning upon his cane from another
angle, went on: "'Twas dis away. Once uponer time me an' John Gomus an'
John Flowers, we was round at Mr. Holmes' stables, right back of Mr.
Kidder's whey I uster keep my horse and kyart; dere was woods right dare
den, sah, an' a graveyard; an' I had a horse and kyart of my own. So one
evenin' an ole white 'oman come fum de Sound, an' she tole us that a
sperit had done tole her whey some money was buried; an' she wanted us
to come down dere and dig it up; she couldn't dig for it, but she
knowed whey 'twas--de sperit had tole her. So we got togedder and made a
club to go down--three of us. De place was on Wrightsville Sound, not
fur from Mr. Wright's place.

"De sign was, dat one read de Bible back'ards, and no one speak--all
hadter go by signs, an' dat'd keep de sperits fum pesterin' us. John
Gomus, he had de rod goin' roun', an' fonn' a place to stick it. I dunno
why he stick it whey he did. De rod pinted right down dere; and right
whey de rod pinted we digged. When we commence diggin', it was about
half-past eight o'clock, and we worked hard, sah. We digged a hole big
enough to set a small house in. John, he kep' bearin' on de rod, an' de
rod it kep' goin' down. Den de rod at las' struck sumpn; and we was so
glad, thinkin' we'd struck de pot! Every one was rejoiced! We didn'
talk, but jes fling up de dirt! An' when we dig down dere, sah, what
you spose 'twas. Nothin' but a big ole cow's horn. An' after all dat
diggin'! We done an' digged a hole 'bout fifteen or twenty feet across,
and goodness knows how deep; an' 'twas 'bout four in de mornin' before
we quit. We pack up an' come back home, feelin' jes as cheap as a wet

"De ole 'oman come 'roun agin, an' tole us dat de money was dere; fer de
sperit had tole her agin 'twas dere. But we warn't anxious to try for it
agin. We thought we done enough."

Old Henry chuckled, and limped away; and we both laughed heartily at his
droll yarn. Jamesby enjoyed the tale particularly; and, although I felt
that it might somehow be at my expense, I was duly amused.

When Jamesby descended from his hilarious heights, he turned to me
rather gravely, and said, "Now, I want it from your own lips; did you
really dig for money on Money Island?"

I answered, "I did."

"And," he continued, "was that a true story you told about it?"

"Now, Jamesby," I replied, "I really cannot endure this doubt cast upon
the truthfulness of my story. I decline to discuss the matter. You have
read the paper, and you know me as the author of the story."

"But," he added in rather a comical tone, "there are some things which
(with all due respect for your trustworthiness) call for a more positive

I knew I would not have written anything on so important a subject
without proper consideration; and he knew it too. However, I realized
the fact that an effort to believe such a story as I had offered to the
public may have made a somewhat weighty demand upon credulity, at least
with some people. To answer his last suggestion, I merely drew out of my
pocket a copy of the "Savannah Morning News", containing an account of a
stranger's mysterious movements about Warsaw Island near Savannah, and
his sudden disappearance, leaving good evidence that he had carried with
him a hidden treasure found there, and which tradition had stated lay
upon the Island. I also reminded him of the fact that Dutch Island near
Savannah is full of what are known as "treasure holes", which have been
made by persons seeking the buried booty of the pirates of the olden
times. He knew all about these; and he had also heard that some of the
enterprising explorers into the mysteries of that island had been

But Jamesby was still incredulous. So I turned the conversation to my
fowls; and he was very ready to admit that I had told the genuine thing
in describing to him some of the excellent points of my prize birds.
There was no doubt that I could exhibit several specimens which any
fancier would be proud of.

Jamesby remained to tea, so that we could go to the lodge together, and
I enjoyed the quiet stroll down town with him. We had hardly entered the
hall, though, before the historian of the town, who is also a leading
Mason, approached me regarding my Money Island revelations. "Sir," he
said, "I regard it throughout as a most interesting and plausible
narrative; and I am glad we have been favored by being allowed to read
it. I have made a study of the pirates who infested our coast in the
early colonial days, and I know that this section, particularly the
lower region of the Cape Fear, was a favorite rendezvous for them. It
is known upon most reliable information that there are immense
quantities of captured treasure secreted along the coast, and the wonder
is that there have not been some really serious efforts to find it."

Another gentleman added, "Yes, and they also buried treasure further
down South; for at my old home (and I speak the honest trath) I have
stood in the hole from which my friend, Mr. Coachman, unearthed
accidentally a small fortune, which gave him a very comfortable start in

The conversation lingered in this absorbing vein until the meeting was
opened, much to my relief; for I had been surfeited with the subject of
money finding for that day, at least. But that was not all; for, during
the solemnity of the opening exercises, I heard some one telling, in an
undertone, of a negro who had found a roll of old bank notes in a log
which had been hauled to a saw mill to be cut.

The next day I was still aware that I possessed an unusual attraction;
and I resigned myself patiently to the service of all my inquiring
friends. Jamesby actually stopped by my office to walk up with me at
lunch time. He was willing to move along slowly with me, for now in my
old age I find I have to walk slowly. I knew it would have been more
natural for him to have gone on briskly; but he was polite and assured
me that the pleasure of my company was better than too much time spent
at his meal.

We stopped on the way at a newspaper office. The editor and proprietor
had observed our approach and they were awaiting us with looks of amused
interest. "Hello!" the proprietor said cheerily, "you have really
stimulated the enterprise of the town. Why have you kept so reticent on
that subject all these years?"

Of course, I knew what subject was referred to; for I had been living
for those two days in an atmosphere filled with the phantoms of hidden
gold, buried treasure, marvelous discoveries, pirates and other engaging
topics of thought; and I now looked for nothing else.

"In my opinion," he continued, "it was a very good story. Of course, it
goes without saying that it is true. I tell you, sir, that it is my
judgment that this whole section of coast line is rich in gold. Not only
did those pirates bury gold here, but, during the Civil War, the
Confederate blockade runners, when fearing capture, were known
repeatedly to throw gold into the sea along the beach, sometimes by the
keg full; and not one dollar's worth of it has ever yet been recovered,
so far as I can learn. It is all right there where they dropped it. And
besides that, at least on one occasion, it is a well proven fact that a
chest of gold was buried by the commander of one of the blockade runners
in the marsh grass on the shore not far below Wilmington; and there is
no evidence that it has ever yet been unearthed. In fact, all knowledge
of the exact spot has been lost, I understand."

"Yes," interposed the editor, "it is all quite reasonable; and, as
something germain to the subject, I can cite an interesting instance.
When, soon after the War our old Confederate naval captain bought his
home on Greenville Sound and was preparing to build his residence, he
had the old house which stood upon the site torn down, and, upon the
carpenters coming one morning to begin the erection of the new building,
they found an immense excavation right where the old house stood. Now,
that old building was in former years used by a Portuguese as an inn for
the entertainment of sailors from the vessels in the port of Wilmington;
and, there being certain traditions in regard to some money having been
buried beneath it, it was natural to conclude that the excavation
resulted from an energetic effort to find the money. The hole was made
at night, but by whom it has never been found out. The incident was
shrouded in a mystery which has never been cleared."

We talked still further along that vein, the editor emphatically
asserting his assured belief in the possibility of recovering quantities
of gold from the seashore below Wilmington, and from the decaying hulks
of blockade runners that rise a little here and there above the waves,
where they met a disastrous check to their efforts to slip into the

As we started out again upon the street, Jamesby said, "Well,
sir,--pardon my frankness--but I must say that I have never found your
company so interesting before; and I shall be equally frank in saying
that--I have never been able yet to believe half the tales I have heard
about the mysterious discovery of buried treasure. There is something so
unsubstantial about most of them. Of course, there may be some
exceptions, and--"

"Jamesby," I interrupted in good humor, "don't let your frankness expire
for the lack of the proper courage. Let your speech continue during the
whole run of an honest statement. But it's all right. I have some
indisputable proofs--"

"Good morning!" It was young Riggins who joined us. "I read that story
of yours, sir. It was good, I must say. It is just like something that
happened in my own personal experience. A few months ago, I was down at
Homosassa, Florida; and, while I was there, some clam diggers discovered
a large chest of old Spanish coin. They sold them to the Government for
thirty thousand dollars, and have now retired from the clam business."

That was a tale rather to the point, and Jamesby received it soberly;
but I laughed out of sheer appreciation of another good yarn.

I did not see Jamesby for several days. I knew it was his busy season;
but I really wished to know how he fared. So, I decided to look him up.
He was a happy, enthusiastic, ingenuous young fellow, and I had become
quite accustomed to having his cheerful company occasionally.

I found him sitting at his desk in intense abstraction; but he soon
observed me standing before him, and quickly arose with a hearty
welcome, such as he alone knew how to extend.

"I tell you, sir," he said enthusiastically, "it is a magnificent

"What is?" I answered. "I don't know--"

"Oh," he continued, absently, "I forgot; it was my brother I was talking
with. But I have investigated thoroughly the whole subject of those
blockade runners, and I believe the prospect of success is worth a giant
effort for the recovery of some of that money from the sea. There must
be untold quantities of it lying there, inviting even a meagre attempt
to get it. The boats can be chartered cheaply; and I have learned that
the necessary divers can be secured on an equitable division of the
spoils. There are many details of the organization of the enterprise
which I have thought out."

His voice had an eager ring, and his eyes sparkled with interest.

"Jamesby, my boy," I answered calmly, "you are decidedly on the right
track. I wish you all good fortune."


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